06 August 2020

A trio of The Mentors by KWV wines have been singled out by the well-regarded judging panel of the Gilbert & Gaillard International Challenge, highlighting once again the consistency of quality that this premier South African range continues to maintain.

Gilbert & Gaillard annually taste and award more than 10 000 wines from the world’s best producers. Tastings are conducted quarterly by a panel of wine experts from France, epicentre of Old World wine excellence.

Emerging in the cream of their most recent winners were The Mentors Petit Verdot 2017, scoring 92/100; and, The Mentors Orchestra 2017 and The Mentors Perold 2017, each scoring 93/100.

The Mentors range was established to be the showcase of South Africa’s diverse terroir. Their conception involves strict selection and the application of the best viticultural and oenological know-how through to a dedicated cellar. This is about small batch wines and the truly refined art of winemaking, as highlighted by the most recent awards from Gilbert & Gaillard.

A leading light – Mentors Petit Verdot 2017

It is uncommon to find Petit Verdot as a stand-alone wine because the classic Bordeaux variety commonly fails to reach optimum ripeness in that very cool region. In warmer New World regions, it can lack finesse if treated unkindly. “The quality of fruit and terroir at our disposal meant this variety offered the ideal opportunity to show what can be achieved,” says The Mentors winemaker Izele van Blerk.

The fruit that went into the making of The Mentors Petit Verdot 2017 comes from two vineyards in Stellenbosch. One known for fruit providing concentration and structure; the other, red-fruit character and finesse.

“The making of this wine is truly about selecting the best-of-the-best,” says Izele.

In glass, it reveals an intense, ruby-red colour. Aromas are concentrated, leading with cranberries, floral notes and sweet spice followed by black olives and aniseed. The palate is rich and juicy with prominent fruit sweetness. The grippy tannin structure is well integrated and delivers an intense, lasting finish.

The Mentors Petit Verdot 2017 may be enjoyed right away but will cellar well for at least eight years. With food, it fares extremely well alongside hearty red meat dishes and aged cheese.

Unity is strength – The Mentors Orchestra 2017

This vintage of the Orchestra is extra special – it was the first time Carménère was included in the blend. Again pursing “the best-of-the-best” philosophy, the wine comprises a blend of six varieties and involved a seven-stage selection process. Each wine was tasted individually to determine its own unique contribution.

The largest portion of fruit in the blend hails from Stellenbosch, a region known for producing exceptional Bordeaux varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon is dominant, with the grapes coming from Paarl, Stellenbosch and Wellington. The remainder, Merlot (19%), Cabernet franc (11%), Malbec (10%), Petit Verdot (6%) and Carménère (4%) are all from Stellenbosch.

“Working with grapes from different regions, gives us the opportunity to get the unique characteristics of each variety and region,” says Izele.  

The result is a wine that shows aromas of blackcurrants, blueberries, plums and black pepper with nuances of pencil shavings and dried herbs. On the palate, the intense concentration is prompted by a firm tannin structure and layers of sweet fruit with a long follow-through.

The wine can be opened now or cellared for up to eight years. It can be enjoyed on its own or paired with braised lamb shoulder or filet mignon.

A great tribute – The Mentors Perold 2017

This wine is a unique Cape Blend conceived in tribute to the work of Prof Abraham Perold and his legacy not only at KWV but throughout the South African wine industry.

The 2017 vintage incorporates five varieties – Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec and Petite Sirah. “The goal has always been to produce a wine that over time will be recognized as South Africa’s ultra-premium benchmark,” says Izele. “Only the best varieties, regions and sites are therefore considered, and winemaking is firmly focused on balanced structure, concentration and finesse.

“We utilize a combination of whole-berry fermentation and gentle pump-overs to ensure every bit of flavour is captured, with Pinotage taking priority.”

For this wine, the bunches – from Swartland, Stellenbosch, Wellington, Darling and Banghoek – were handpicked and sorted. Following fermentation and vinification, the most promising wines of each cultivar were chosen to mature further in barrel. After 12 months, the best wines were singled out again and aged another six months.

In glass, the wine is elegant and shows the aromatic fruit sweetness of plums, sour cherries and black pepper. It is characterised on the palate with intense mouthfeel and structure, attributes of great balance between fruit concentration and oak integration.

The Mentors Perold 2017 can be enjoyed now or cellared for eight to ten years from vintage. Pair with hearty winter dishes such as oxtail and lamb shank.

The wines are temporarily not for sale in South Africa due to legislated pandemic regulations. Stay up to date with the latest developments by following KWV on Twitter and Instagram as @KWV_TheMentors; and, on Facebook (@KWVTheMentors).